So, you know how we justify using that special piece of fabric we love or have been saving? We say things like "it's just fabric" -- and we're right....to a point. I do not feel that way about these fabrics.
I adore them. I revere them. I want to do them justice.
They are diawabo fabrics from Japan. I don't really know a lot about their history but I do know that very few mills produce them and they are muted with a "taupe" overtone. The patterns and designs are amazing. I have never ever felt this way about fabric before - Kaffe, Cherrywoods, batiks, anything.
When I was working on these blocks, I trimmed them each to 5.5" to square them up, ripped out those that weren't quite right, and re-made the blocks. Not to mention starching them into submission. Love the fabrics - don't love the raveling!
I ended up keeping one of my seam rippers at the ironing board so I could rip out whatever made me unhappy right there before I pressed it. I was not in a hurry. The strips finish at 1/2" and much variation shows a lot -- as you can see in a few of the blocks.
This is a terrible picture of the finished top -- the wind would not cooperate. So, I'll just say that the borders are much larger and mitered and leave it at that.
How did I come to have these wonderful fabrics? Well, that's another story for another post. In the meantime, I'm waiting for a calm day to take a picture of the quilt top so I can do it justice.
I hope you have fabric in your stash that you adore. It's so fun when you start to use it!
Sometimes you just have to adjust your plans...and show the fabric who is boss.
I am working on a quilt that I absolutely love. I love the fabrics. I love the colors. I love the pattern. I love how I came to be working on it. Unfortunately, I do not love the way the blocks are constructed or the fact that they are a bit stretchy and ravel if you look at them.
After some thought and putting this back in its shoebox several times, it occurred to me that I was the "boss of it" and I decided two weeks ago to starch the fire out of the blocks. I made sure that I used a dry iron - the last thing I wanted was to stretch the blocks with steam. Starch the back of the block, turn the block over, press the front (no ironing back and forth), repeat! That helped considerably as it stabilized them. But, the construction of the block still created problems. I have fixed that!
I decided to give them a little trim. Literally, a shave and a haircut! The blocks were to be 5 3/4" unfinished. They are now 5 1/2" and going together like a dream. Stiff as a board and equally sized. I am still in love with them.
Because of all the starching, I used my modified ironing pad. When I'm using a lot of starch and want to protect my ironing board, I simply put my June Tailor ironing/cutting pad on it.
This is the typical June Tailor pad that I had used so much the original ironing pad was ripped and no longer usable. I put some cotton batting on top of it, took an overused towel, made a "sleeve" from the towel, slipped the board in the sleeve, and pinned it on. It is not fancy. It is not pretty. It is incredibly effective, travels easily, and can be washed when it gets a bit gummy. And, it repurposes a tool that had worn out and it's now just as usable as before. Gotta love that.
In this case, I've actually thrown away the towel sleeve and will make another one. It was SO stiff and covered in threads from the blocks that it's not worth it. I don't want those threads in my washer or dryer and you can see the scorch marks where I have used the same spot over and over.
I hope you are lucky enough to be working on a project that is bringing you joy...
A swap. A swap of 800 4 patches that will finish at 1.5". Of course -- who wouldn't want to use up 1.25" strips, right? That means you can go right to your strings and not have to cut from your stash.
I'll spare you the details of construction for now. Suffice it to say that 1" sashing will take a while as will the creation of blocks of four 4-patches that will eventually become a block of 16 patches. The larger blocks are being assembled with no regard to color, direction, or duplication. They will finish at 8" and are the perfect leader-ender project since it's a matter of grabbing and sewing. Pressing seams open is another story for another day!
I do have to say, I like the periodic cornerstones that finish at 1/2". I'm always looking for ways to use a 1" square! Oh, and did I mention that I made too many of these little darlings and have about 100 extra that will need to be added to the top? The ones in the picture above are my "leftovers" and were already being used as leader-ender fun prior to the big shipment.
I hope you have had a week of productivity and color!
Recently, one of the members our little quilt guild died suddenly -- only weeks before she was being featured in a local quilt show. I really didn't know DT well but apparently she was a talented quilter; I don't remember her bringing any of her quilts to guild so I'm not sure I've ever seen her work.
But others had and she loved quilting. In honor of her passion, her casket was draped with a quilt that was to be featured in her show. Don't you love that? How fitting. And her family was honored to loan her quilts to the show so that she could be honored in her absence. This has led me to recall P from our Chicago quilt group (not even loosely defined as a "guild"). P died way too young and suddenly. She was also a wonderful quilter and and I remember smiling as I walked into the funeral home and there were quilts all over the visitation room. What incredible color to compete with the floral arrangements. Her daughters were telling the story of each of the quilts as they visited with those that came to pay their respects. I will never forget the snippets of fabrics and small quilt blocks that were slipped into P's casket -- and even into her hands. I don't intend for this to be morbid or maudlin -- but rather to celebrate the community and love of quilting that we share. We see it in life and we see it in death. The following poem was included in DT's memorial card. I have never seen this before and can't give credit where credit is due. There was none in the card as well. If anyone knows the origin, please let me know so I can update with author's name. Edited 4.19.13. Thanks to Snowcatcher for letting me know this was written by Shutta Crum for her mother. The link is here. My Mother Taught Me to Quilt
I learned from my mother how to quilt—
how to measure the width and length,
how to find the exact shade of a rainy day
or the hue of a grandchild’s trust.
She taught me that the whole is made up
of the piecings of each day, sewn one to the next.
And to save scraps; you never know when you’ll need one.
She taught me to ease dissonance
into harmonies of pattern, and when to stitch blind.
She told me that the straight grain is strong
but I must learn to work with bias—
for there are days when the fabric must stretch.
And she said there would be rough patches
over which I could appliqué flowers.
Then she taught me how to layer it together—
how to rock my needle, hand-stitching this work of mine
to the warm core and to the hardy backing.
Finally, she taught me to be proud—
to tuck in raw edges and bind the whole with boldness.
This is what I learned from my mother
when she taught me to quilt.
Everyone leaves a legacy....and I think quilters have the privilege of leaving one that will transcend generations. We learn life lessons from quilting (as noted above) and we share that love (and those lessons) with others. Aren't we fortunate? I hope you have been sharing your life lessons and legacies with those you love! Jan
Well, if you read my last post, you know I was bouncing around from project to project like Jumpin' Jack Flash. This week has been the exact opposite. My machine was only turned on for about 30 minutes of sewing -- all week.
Instead, I got focused on selecting fabrics for this block. This is my third (of 16!) block from Kim McLean's Lollypop Quilt pattern. I love it -- but choosing fabrics and making decisions makes me a little nuts.
This color palette is completely out of my comfort zone -- to the point that I made myself a note reminding me that I wanted it to be pink and orange. Turns out I didn't have much orange -- so it ended up pink, yellow, and a bit of orange.
This is not fast for me -- before even getting to the fabric selection and block prepping, I trace every piece that is not a circle onto Beth Ferrier's appliqué paper. I normally use freezer paper but the denser foundation of Beth's paper gives me more stability. I did a practice block and used freezer paper -- I found that even subtle shifting impacted the design. As you can see, this is a mirror image block and one stem creeping up 1/4" and the other stem slipping 1/4" is obvious.
The patterns are well done but they take a lot of paper! And once I got the pink block done, it seemed silly not to do another one! No sense gluing the pieces down for just one block.
That leads to deciding on the primary color for that next block and digging into my tote of Kaffe fabrics!
I ended up with yet another block prepped that is not in the colors that make me most comfortable (blues and reds and purples!). I have added a bobbin to the lower right hand circle to get a perspective on the size of the blocks.
So -- what now? I have devoted the entire week to tracing, prepping, selecting, cutting, gluing, and pinning wonderful fabrics to patterns that make me very happy. Before I pull out the Roxanne's appliqué glue -- maybe I should prep one more! After all, I need 16 and I only have two completed and these two ready to finalize. And, there are about a million small applique blocks for the border -- but I can't even think about those right now!
I hope you have had a good week doing whatever makes you happy -- and playing with great fabric!
I have been bouncing....from one project to another. Starting with these beauties -- from fabric we bought in Houston.....
....to playing with some of my 1.5" squares.....
....to making a charity baby quilt from donated flannel strips.....
....to another charity baby quilt....
...to playing with my yummy pink fat quarters that range from the palest of pink to an orange sherbert to a deep deep pink.
So, I haven't finished anything (yet) in the last two weeks -- but I've played with lots of fabrics, patterns, and used up some scraps as well as finally cutting some fabrics I've loved. Who knows what this week will bring.
I hope you are finding time to play with fabric -- whether it's bouncing like Tigger or devoting yourself to a single project until it's done. It's all good!
Have you heard of this organization? It is remarkable and was founded in 2007 by delivering 230 quilts to orphans in Ethiopia. Since that time, they have sent over 2,600 quilts to Ethiopia, Haiti, Japan, Thailand, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Uganda, Burundi, Cameroon, and Russia. Currently they are working to send quilts to the Forgotten People organization that services Arizona Navajo people living, in many cases, without electricity and running water. They are cold. This is shameful!
Whether you prefer to donate your charity quilts locally or globally, you have to admire their Mission Statement:
To provide quilts to children in need, especially orphans living in under-served areas of the world where the warmth of a quilt is needed at night.
I don't have permission to share "before and after" pictures from their brochure that shows spartan bunk beds lined up side by side (the children appear to have to crawl into (or up to) their bed from the foot. There is no room between the beds. The "after" picture shows wonderful colorful quilts draped at the foot of each bed.
If you've ever been to a major quilt show, you know the charity organizations' booths are normally at the very last aisle of the quilt exhibits. They are not in high traffic areas -- by a long shot. While in Houston last fall, we walked by the QBB booth and were drawn to the packets of fabric, finished quilts, and a few items for sale. In reading their brochure, this was the paragraph that drew me in and led me to sign up to make a quilt (or quilt top) within the next year:
More than 140 million children in the world today have lost one or more parents. Sub-Saharan Africa is the home to an estimated 50 million orphaned children. More than one in three orphans will have lost a parent to AIDS. In Ethiopia alone, there are currently about 5 million orphans.
I was all in! It was reaffirmed when I read that besides their school uniforms, this will be the only personal possession of many orphans. Heartbreaking!
This is an organization that makes it as easy as possible on us quilters when it comes to donating. You can donate unwanted fabric. You can donate a quilt top (42"x48" to 42"x60"). You can donate your long arm quilting. You can donate $15 which pays to send 6-8 tops to a volunteer longarmer. They will also take frequent flier donations, publicity, researching grant opportunities, and sales of quilts for fundraising.
Seriously -- you don't have to send a finished quilt. These three tops will be going to a longarmer next week along with some leftover scrappy binding.
I know many quilters are called to serve and donate locally and I understand and admire that. I make two small baby quilts for the local hospital every month. A small church quilting group I belong to is making pillowcases (with members furnishing pillows) for local children who are removed from their homes and put in foster care. I know many of you make quilts, layettes, and pillowcases for local organizations. What I don't always understand is the position that it's "either - or". Why can't it be "both" with the generosity of quilters being spread locally and globally?
I am not looking for an answer because this is a personal matter. We quilt for so many reasons - creativity, gifts, inspiration, peace, energy, fulfillment, art, healing.....I suspect we rarely need to quilt to keep our families warm these days. But there are opportunities throughout the world help keep others warm.
I would encourage you to see if you have a quilt top (or quilt) you've fallen out of love with or fabric you are tired of or scraps or a pattern you want to try -- to look at QBB's website and see if you feel moved to help them out. Postage to ship it is the only expense.
This very simple brick quilt is their recommended pattern (3" strips cut across fat quarters) and these are the fabrics that I picked up from their booth. The two Scrappy Trip Around the World tops (pattern by Quiltville) are from my 2.5" strip bin that exploded when I opened it. It's certainly more under control but I have enough 16" strips to make at least one more. The smaller strips are being subcut for another Cross Quilt. I need to get something in my quilt room under control!
Even if you don't donate to this wonderful organization -- I would suggest you look at their website for a reminder of why quilters are special and we should all be proud to use that title in describing our art.